Review by Sour
"You wanted Destruction? Well you got Total Vehicular Mayhem instead!!"
The first Twisted Metal proved that it could hold it's own in a gaming industry where higher production values and iconic characters that have lasted decades. In response to this, 989 Studios green lighted a sequel for the popular vehicular combat game. It would introduce more characters as well as keeping a majority of favorites from the first game. The game was well-received and was a strong entry in the Twisted Metal series, perhaps succeeding it's predecessor in terms of game-play, definitely so in graphics. It's time to rev up that engine and engage in the most twisted tournament the world has ever seen!
Story: 10/10: The story is much the same as the first game. Calypso, a mysterious and powerful man has invited select individuals to engage in a tournament of vehicular combat. The last man (or woman) standing will be granted one wish of the contestant's choosing. This time, Calypso has invited several more people and the stage is no loner merely the mean streets of LA, but the whole world! As previously mentioned, the winner will be granted any wish that they desire. However, Calypso has a very mean streak, and will often grant this wish in such a way that it will do harm to the person asking the wish. For instance, I could wish for eternal youth and be shrunk back down to a baby forever. This is very reminiscent of the Wishmaster franchise of movies, where an evil Djinn grants three wishes to whomever releases him, but uses the wishes to cause destruction. Each character has their own ending and sometimes it may not bode well for Calypso, particularly since one of the characters is a police duo bent on taking down Calypso for his crimes and shutting down the fatal tournament once and for all. You'll have to beat the game with every character to obtain all the endings and enjoy them, and you may find yourself laughing at some of the twisted (oh yeah, I went there again) irony.
Game-play: 10/10: Upon starting the game, you'll have the option to select one of several characters to play as and enter the tournament. Each arena is a battle royal between you and several other cars. As the game progresses, you'll go up against more and more enemies per stage. The controls are very fluid and responsive, and easy to learn. As you drive around each arena you'll find weapons that can be equipped to use against your foes. Each character also has a default special weapon that slowly regenerates, making it so you always have at least one weapon to fire off. And even if you've exhausted that, you can use the machine guns that are on each side of the car. They're weak but they can help. One addition to this game that the first didn't have is boss characters. There are only two of them, but it's an improvement nonetheless. Upon beating all of the enemies for two certain arenas you'll face off in a one on one battle with that arena's boss character. In addition to the single-player campaign, there is no a two player co-op campaign, whereas the first game only had the death-match option for two-player. Now you and a friend can team up and really blast your way through the tournament! Beware though, as in the co-op mode, you'll receive no ending.
The environments are also more interactive. Some merely in an aesthetic sort of way, such as shooting the Statue of Liberty in the New York level. Doing this will turn her into a girl wearing a bikini. Shoot her enough after that and she'll become grotesquely obese, and a few more shots after that, she'll blow up. And then there's the Antarctica arena, with the sinking glaciers. You'll have to be careful in this level and watch for the steam rising up from cracks. Once it's steaming, get back towards the center of the arena before the glacier falls, and you with it! And in Paris, you can blow up the Eiffel Tower, causing the top half of it to fall down and create a bridge to the rooftops of the area.
Graphics: 8/10: They did a much better job here than in the previous game. Firstly, the artwork for the characters is amazing, on the character select screen and in the endings. Environments are a little more detailed than the last game as well. But although the artwork and environments are done well, the game still looks pretty pixelated, albeit less so than it's predecessor. The vehicles all still look a bit blocky, but again, not as much as the first game. The fonts are also a little big, particularly when it shows an enemy's name. At first I thought they were just plain sloppy, but now it's kind of obvious that the series just doesn't have that large of a budget, so cut 'em some slack. It's not like you can't make out anything. Explosions look like explosions and the missiles look like projectiles. Not very fancy-looking but it shouldn't hurt your eyes or anything.
Audio: 10/10: Another thing that's just as good as the first game, if not better, is the soundtrack. Twisted Metal 2 keeps the rockin' tunes comin', and they're catchy to boot. Especially the music for the final boss. You may find yourself tapping your foot or bouncing your leg in tune with the beat. The team has always done a great job here and would go on to hire various large-name talents in future installments, most notably Rob Zombie. The characters are voiced excellently also, helping match their dark and twisted (oh yeah, I said it, again!) personalities. When picking up a weapon for a car it sounds like you're loading the rockets and when picking up health it sounds like a "power-up", warped sound. On top of that the other sound effects all sound fine. When driving you can hear the motor runnin' and when you blow something up it sounds like a massive explosion. The special weapons also have some funny-sounding sound effects, but it adds to the dark silliness to the game if that makes sense.
Overall: 9/10: A major improvement over the first game, Twisted Metal 2 is one of the strongest entries in the series. It added new elements to the franchise such as boss characters and the oh-so-fun co-op mode that's still included in the franchise to this date. If you like vehicular combat and total carnage, this is the game for you!
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 03/15/10, Updated 07/06/10
Game Release: Twisted Metal 2 (US, 10/31/96)
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